Elections

New poll might have let more candidates into GOP debate

FILE - In this Oct. 31, 2015, file photo, Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee, speaks at the Iowa GOP's Growth and Opportunity Party at the Iowa state fair grounds in Des Moines, Iowa. Chris Christie and Huckabee have been relegated out of prime-time and onto the undercard at the Nov. 10, GOP presidential debate.
FILE - In this Oct. 31, 2015, file photo, Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee, speaks at the Iowa GOP's Growth and Opportunity Party at the Iowa state fair grounds in Des Moines, Iowa. Chris Christie and Huckabee have been relegated out of prime-time and onto the undercard at the Nov. 10, GOP presidential debate. AP

Tuesday’s Republican presidential debate might have looked a lot different if a new McClatchy-Marist Poll had been part of the mix.

Had it been used, it likely would have allowed Mike Huckabee and Chris Christie into the main prime time debate rather than being bumped to an earlier debate for lower scoring candidates.

The problem was that the McClatchy-Marist Poll was released Monday, after Fox Business Channel had announced its lineup.

Like others this season, the network used an average of public national polls that use broadly accepted survey criteria, such as personal phone calls to respondents rather than automated calls. They used the four most recent polls that were conducted through Nov. 4.

The network announced Nov. 5 that, based on the average of polls from Fox, Quinnipiac University, NBC/Wall Street Journal and IBD, eight candidates met the threshold of 2.5 percent support.

“To qualify for the prime-time debate, a candidate had to score 2.5% or higher in an average of the four most recent national polls,” the network said.

Two who had been in the main debate before, Huckabee and Christie, fell short and were excluded. Each had an average of 2.25 percent.

Fox did not know that the McClatchy-Marist Poll also concluded its phone calls Nov. 4.

The results of that survey testing Republican candidates, conducted by the Marist Institute of Public Opinion, were published Monday morning. The results were published Monday to coincide with the coming debate, not to play any role in its membership.

The McClatchy-Marist results showed higher support for both Huckabee and Christie than the IBD poll, which was the oldest in the group and thus most likely to have been replaced had the McClatchy-Marist survey been publicly available earlier.

McClatchy-Marist found 3 percent of Republican voters supporting Huckabee. That was higher than the 1 percent in the IBD poll, and enough to raise the former Arkansas governor to an average of 2.75 percent had it replaced the IBD survey.

McClatchy-Marist found 2 percent of GOP voters supporting Christie. That was higher than the 1 percent in the IBD poll, and enough to raise the New Jersey governor to an average of 2.5 percent had it replaced the IBD survey.

Steve Thomma: 202-383-6042, @stevethomma

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